Invest in an active culture of peace, in Sweden and in the world

In next year's budget, Sweden will increase its resources for peacebuilding, but the annual investments are still less than the cost of the war exercise Aurora. Although the government's new strategy for sustainable peace is about preventing and preventing a recurrence of armed conflict, national security policy is based on other ideas. Sweden has everything to gain from trying to build an active culture of peace - it is modern security policy, writes Lotta Sjöström Becker, Secretary General of the Christian Peace Movement.

The Swedish government has adopted a new one Strategy to contribute to sustainable world peace, with a focus on armed conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The government has also announced that the appropriations for peacebuilding will be doubled, to SEK 400 million. In clear contrast to these advances, Sweden is at the same time hosting the largest war exercise in the country in 20 years, where the United States and other NATO members practice a sharp position on Swedish soil and in the urban environment. The three-week-long exercise Aurora is said to have cost SEK 600 million. Why does the government choose to spend 200 million more on a war exercise than the entire (extended) budget for the prevention of armed conflict and peacebuilding?

Unfortunately, the pattern is repeated globally. The Global Peace Index, which ranks the world's countries and territories based on how peaceful they are, has estimated that the economic cost of world war in 2016 was one trillion dollars (that is, one billion billion). The sums spent on peacebuilding are much more modest and are estimated to amount to about 10 trillion dollars annually, in other words less than one percent of what the wars cost. This is despite the return on investment in peacebuilding according to the Global Peace Indexs investigation report can amount to 16 times the initial cost of the efforts.

We benefit from being consistent

Sweden has everything to gain from increasing the resources for peace-building efforts in other countries, and that the ideas on which the strategy for sustainable peace is based are prioritized and given real resources in our national security policy as well. The Global Goals for Sustainable Development apply to all countries, including Sweden. They make it possible to meet global challenges in a common process, including the creation of peaceful and inclusive societies (Objective 16). In Sweden, Minister of Civil Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi is responsible for the national implementation of Agenda 2030, and after two years we are still waiting for an action plan. We want to see that resources are set aside specifically for goal 16, and that Swedish civil society organizations with relevant experience and expertise become part of the implementation of these initiatives.

In an anthology about the power of non-violence in the time of terror that the Christian Peace Movement has been involved in producing, Joel Halldorf writes in the introduction that “neither peace nor war comes from nothing, but always grows out of a soil. Therefore, winning the war is not enough to build a lasting peace, but one must change the culture and create a soil from which peace can grow ”. Peace is built by people, and as human beings we are influenced by the outside world - everything from the political agendas to our ability to influence our own life situation. But it also matters how we talk about peace and security, how we learn to handle conflicts and how our environment reacts to change. Peace culture bears fruit when it becomes something we use every day, when we solve contradictions and solve problems with the help of non-violent methods and a common goal. We need to discuss resource allocation from this perspective and strengthen the ability to handle conflicts without violence. It is modern security policy.

Practice for peace instead of war

When I listen to Colonel Micael Bydén in Ekot's Saturday interview, it strikes me that what the participants in the war exercise Aurora are actually practicing is the good cooperation with actors from other countries. They practice in a crisis situation to make the logistical and practical work, such as having sufficiently wide roads and the right fuel for the vehicles, and they exchange knowledge that makes work and communication between countries more efficient. Those who participated gained valuable experience, but as a collaborative exercise, Aurora must be seen as unreasonably costly.

Sweden should practice how we can together prevent violent conflict and build an active culture of peace. Conflicts per se are not dangerous, but without tools and resources to manage and transform the conflicts, they are full of risks. Constructive conflicts are evolving for society and for our relationships - let's strengthen the culture of peace at all levels and skip the violent reactions that only strengthen the power of fear.

Lotta Sjöström Becker

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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